In January 2011, a delegation from the Bank s Indian subsidiary, led by Jacques Michel, Chief Executive Officer and Country Manager, BNP Paribas India, visited the Kingdom of Bahrain for a seminar on relations between India and the Gulf States. India and the Gulf region have close historical ties and a special relationship which is reflected in the cross- border trade flows and partnerships, he explained. With BNP Paribas strong footprint in the Gulf region and a more than 150-year presence in India, a deep knowledge of the two regions is an inherent part of our offering. This, coupled with our local networks and enduring client relationships, enables us to deliver comprehensive cross-border financial services to both corporate and individual clients.
The Gulf States have also been building ties further east, and Korea is one such recipient of Arab attention. As a result, Philippe Reynieix, Head of BNP Paribas Korea, visited the Kingdom of Bahrain in 2011, to assess the support that BNP Paribas might provide to Korean companies working in the Gulf.
Looking back to his first trip to Bahrain, Reynieix said: We had a brainstorming session in Bahrain, the first time I went to the Gulf as part of the CIB GCC-Korea initiative. Our GCC FI/DCM (Debt Capital Markets) colleagues told us of the existence in the Gulf of investors who were interested in buying good quality diversified debt paper, while on the Korean side we knew that major issuers were interested in diversifying their investor and currency base as soon as the conditions for swaps became favourable. The round table discussion in Bahrain led to the conclusion that there were converging business interests between the DCM GCC and Korea teams.
A major deal was concluded in March 2012, with the Bank acting as lead manager on a five- year bond issued by a Korean bank. This deal marked the first time a bond denominated in Saudi Arabian Riyals was issued by a non-Saudi issuer, and it was also the Korean bank s first-ever bond issue in the Middle East.
Supporting clients beyond the Gulf
In 2010, the regional hub in the Kingdom of Bahrain took over responsibility for Corporate & Investment Banking in South Africa, forming the Middle East and Southern Africa (MESA) region. At the time, BNP Paribas had only a representative office, but given the country s potential as a market, steps were taken to obtain a full banking license. This crucial step towards full operation in South Africa was achieved in March 2012, when the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) gave its permission to establish a banking presence by means of a Full Commercial and Investment Banking branch opened in June 2012.
The Indian Rupee in the Gulf
It is interesting to note that the Indian Rupee was actively used in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula and was the official currency of Dubai and Qatar until 1959, when it was replaced by the Gulf Rupee, which continued as legal tender until 1966. Following a substantial devaluation of the Indian Rupee in 1966, a new Qatar-Dubai Riyal was established in order to ensure currency stability.
on strategies to broaden these ties, and to further develop links between India and the Middle East.
Advisory Board members also held discussions with H.R.H. Prince Khalifa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, who recognised the key role of BNP Paribas in the Kingdom of Bahrain and expressed the Kingdom of Bahrain s interest in boosting economic co-operation with India.
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